Firm Files Sexual Assault Lawsuit, Testing Statute of Limitations

On November 21, 2016, our firm filed a sexual assault lawsuit in Davidson County, Tennessee, Circuit Court.  The case is Jane Roe v. Yellow Cab Metro, Inc. & Samir Hindieh, Case No. 16C-3056. The filing of this case was reported in The Tennessean.

The lawsuit alleges that Yellow Cab Metro, Inc. and Samir Hindieh, a cab driver [pictured on left], breached the implied contract of safe carriage when Mr. Hindieh sexually assaulted the plaintiff, known as Jane Roe for purposes of the lawsuit.  Ms. Roe was a student at Belmont University in Nashville at the time of the assault.

The lawsuit further alleges that Yellow Cab knew Mr. Hindieh had previously sexually assaulted a different passenger on New Year’s Eve 2014-2015. The suit alleges that, in response to that incident, Yellow Cab did nothing to punish Mr. Hindieh or to prevent him from operating a Yellow Cab.  Mr. Hindieh then sexually assaulted the plaintiff in February 2015, according to the lawsuit. 

Sexual Assault Lawsuit Tests Statute of Limitations

The central legal issue in the new sexual assault lawsuit relates to the statute of limitations, which are laws that set the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. In Tennessee, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including sexual assault, is one (1) year.

Tennessee’s one-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases is one of the shortest in the country.  Only two other states, Louisiana and Kentucky, have one-year limitations periods for personal injury claims.  Both Louisiana and Kentucky have specific child sexual abuse statute of limitations that provide for longer time periods (5 years in Kentucky and 10 years in Louisiana).  Tennessee enacted a child-abuse specific statute of limitations in 2016 (Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-116), which extends the limitations period to 3 years from the date of discovery.  But this statute has no application to adult victims of sexual assault, in contrast to many states.

Colorado, for example, provides for a six (6) year statute of limitations period in civil cases involving sexual assault (Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-80-103.7).  In Alaska, in civil cases involving a sexual assault that amounts to a criminal felony, there is no limitations period at all (Alaska Stat. § 09.10.065).  Adult victims of sexual assault in these states have more legal protections than victims of sexual assault in Tennessee. 

In the new sexual assault lawsuit we filed on behalf of Ms. Roe, we have argued that Yellow Cab, as a common carrier, breached the implied contract of safe carriage.  Accordingly, we have argued that the applicable statute of limitations should be the six (6) year limitations period set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-109(a)(3) for “actions on contracts not otherwise expressly provided for.”

Whether we succeed on Ms. Roe’s behalf in this case, we believe this case raises an important question of public policy.  We believe Tennessee should adopt a sexual assault specific statute of limitations in cases involving adult victims.  

[If you have questions about a potential sexual assault lawsuit, please contact us today]

[post by @CWSmith_Law]

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